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Star Store

“Young adult smokers are the only source of replacement smokers” – Internal tobacco company quote

The tobacco industry markets tobacco to youth, and advertising in retail stores is intended to reach them. Cigarettes are marketed more often in stores where youth shop frequently: 3.4 times as many ads for cigarettes were found on windows of stores that were rated as most popular with youth. Research has found that tobacco marketing creates an environment in which youth think smoking is much more common and acceptable than it actually is.

Star Stores are Leaders in Their Community

Star Store is a voluntary program created to encourage the responsible retailing of tobacco products. In combination with NO BUTS! it helps advance best retailing practices further by reducing the exposure of tobacco messages, advertising, and promotion to youth by reducing or eliminating the visibility of tobacco marketing to kids that leads to tobacco use.

Star Store Benefits

Star Store helps retailers promote themselves within their community and around the state. The designation can be displayed prominently in the store as a decal, and is accompanied by local and statewide public relations and promotions.

Being a Star Store can also make your store more inviting to customers. Studies show that reducing the volume of messages and advertising signage in your store can increase “shopability,” or the ability of your customers to enjoy patronizing your store.

Star Store Gets Youth Involved

Youth involvement is the most important part of the Star Store program. Youth representatives from the Youth Advocacy Program select stores, survey stores, train owners and managers, make recommendations, and recommend stores for Star status. Their participation adds to the effectiveness of this program, since it brings retailers face to face with those who are most affected by their policies.

Youth receive special training to learn how to make the initial contacts and survey the stores in detail. They also gain an understanding of how the tobacco industry uses marketing and advertising to influence young people to use tobacco.

Gain Star Status

The Star Store initiative is being conducted as a pilot project in three communities in Maine. If successful, it will be modified and rolled out statewide. The program is being launched with training for both the youth and their adult Youth Advocacy program coordinators. While both participating NO BUTS! and non-participating retailers will be contacted, non-participating retailers will be asked to join the NO BUTS! program in order to receive Star Store recognition.

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The Star Store Process

  1. Stores are selected to visit. After training, youth and adult coordinators meet to discuss and select stores in the community to visit based on the youth’s transportation abilities and availability.
  2. Appointments are requested. Youth will visit the retail outlet, ask to meet with the manager/owner, introduce themselves and the program if the manager is present, and provide the manager/owner with a program fact sheet and brochure. If the manager/owner is not present for the youth’s first visit, the youth will leave a calling card brochure with their contact information to request an appointment time. The appointment is to give the youth an opportunity to introduce the program to the retailer.
  3. Survey is conducted. At the owner/manager’s convenience, the youth will visit the store and further explain the program using the “Program Fact Sheet.” They will then conduct a brief survey of all tobacco messaging inside and outside of the store. Youth are trained to be polite and not disrupt the normal business of the store. They will bring a camera and a measuring tape to aid in the survey.
  4. Recommendations are made. Together, with their coordinator, the youth will draft a list of recommended changes in tobacco signage and present this to the owner/manager. The changes will include suggestions like moving the placement of a sign or removing a sign. A letter is written by the youth to the owner/manager and delivered within one week of the observation.
  5. Youth follow up on the letter. Once the letter has been delivered to the owner/manager, the youth will visit the store in one to two weeks and assess the level of the owner/manager’s changes. If the changes have not been made, the youth will leave a note asking if more time is needed and requesting completion within one week.
  6. Star Store status is awarded. If the changes have been made, the youth write a thank-you letter, and the store receives a Star Store decal to place above its NO BUTS! sign.
  7. Star Store status is promoted. All Star Stores will be recognized in their community for helping to protect youth from the dangers of using tobacco. Participating stores will be recognized on the statewide web site and various community and school promotions.

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